KUALA LUMPUR, 24 March – The World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed concern that the Covid-19 pandemic is “accelerating”, as infections exceed 300,000 worldwide.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reportedly said it was still possible to “change the trajectory”, even as he noted it took 67 days for the first 100,000 coronavirus cases to be identified, 11 days for the second 100,000, but merely four days for positive cases to reach the third 100,000.
“To win, we need to attack the virus with aggressive and targeted tactics – testing every suspected case, isolating and caring for every confirmed case, and chasing and quarantining every close contact,” Tedros was quoted by BBC as saying during the launch of a coronavirus campaign involving prominent footballers.
He called upon affected countries to adopt rigorous testing and contact-tracing strategies.
“Health workers can only do their jobs effectively when they can do their jobs safely,” he explained.
“Even if we do everything else right, if we don’t prioritise protecting health workers, many people will die because the health worker who could have saved their life is sick.”
The WHO has also been partnering with other parties to address the global concern of the lack of personal protective equipment, and to prioritise the issue.
“Measures put in place to slow the spread of the virus may have unintended consequences of exacerbating shortages of essential protective gear and the materials needed to make them.”
Tedros will speak to the leaders of the G20 bloc of nations to discuss increasing the production of protective equipment, call off export bans, and ensure the equipment is distributed equally on the basis of need.